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Accessing Red Hill: Using Omeka S to Document and Preserve an African American Cemetery

Project of Merit Winner!
Author: Carol Hemminway and Laura Bullard
Faculty Mentor: Dr. David Sheffler and Michael Boyles, Project Lead


The Red Hill Cemetery Project is a collaboration between the University of North Florida and the Okefenokee Heritage Center, which seeks to document and archive historical and spatial data related to Red Hill Cemetery, the oldest African American cemetery in Waycross, Georgia. The project, led by an interdisciplinary team of scholars from history, anthropology, and geography, combines traditional historical archival research with GIS and photogrammetry to build a broadly accessible virtual cemetery. Central to this effort is the development of a database of names and biographical information. Using the web publishing platform Omeka S and a custom ontology, the database will eventually include hundreds of digitized, transcribed, and fully-searchable death certificates. The certificates date primarily from the first quarter of the twentieth century and include social, demographic, medical, and biographical data of value to genealogists, scholars, and the broader community. As members of the Red Hill Cemetery team, Michael Boyles, Carol Hemmingway, and Laura Bullard have focused on using the unique capabilities of Omeka S to develop a cultural heritage database that maximizes access for individuals and researchers with diverse needs and interests. This presentation focuses on the technological and conceptual labor of building a useful and accessible digital framework.
Research Types: Graduate Research, Undergraduate Research, Faculty/Staff

11 Responses

  1. I think the concept of combining archival records, oral history, and GIS is fantastic and has a lot of potential. I look forward to where this project takes you.

  2. This is an important topic and the poster itself is accessible and aesthetically engaging. I concur with the comment above that the project has tremendous potential and is an important contribution to documenting the history of this area. Congratulations!

  3. Database construction, especially using historic documents as sources for data, is incredibly time consuming and difficult. However, the effort is critical. Your digital database is an exceptionally important part of preserving this cemetery location. It will significantly ease future researchers’ efforts to explore the lives of African-Americans in Waycross. More importantly, it helps preserve and make this information available to the descendants of those buried at Red Hill cemetery.

  4. I really appreciate the prioritization of accessibility and ease of use for those interested. I’m excited for all the the upcoming information from the interviews with Waycross citizens.

  5. This valuable and difficult to create dataset will not only help recuperate a lost history at the Red Hill Cemetery, but the methods developed can serve others engaged in similar projects.

  6. What a beautiful project! Creating a database of searchable information and making it accessible to everyone in that community and beyond is a lovely way to serve the community. The next step to integrate oral history into the well, developed database is really exciting!

  7. Carol and Laura,
    This project is fascinating to me. I like that there is connection with scholars, community members, and community agencies (and students, of course). I agree with Dr. Rakita, the more work you do with the database, the more valuable this resource will be for future scholars and community members. I wish you the best in your future research.

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